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Septuplet Remains Perilously Close to Death

June 8, 1985

ORANGE, Calif. (AP) _ As three of the four surviving Frustaci septuplets grew stronger, hopes were dim today for their sister.

″Very, very critical″ is how Childrens Hospital spokesman Doug Wood described tiny Bonnie Marie Frustaci late Friday and there was no improvement reported early today.

″She is just a very tough little girl and is hanging on,″ Wood said.

Her parents, Samuel and Patti Frustaci of Riverside, took turns by their daughter’s hospital crib.

Of her two surviving brothers and a sister, Bonnie Marie was hardest hit by hyaline membrane disease, a respiratory ailment common in premature babies, whose lungs have not developed enough to function normally and tend to collapse with each breath.

Although they all remain hooked to life-support systems, Bonnie Marie’s three siblings remained stable and have grown stronger each day, Wood said.

None weighs over two pounds, he said.

Wood told reporters that Bonnie Marie wasn’t expected to survive the weekend. ″The child is just maintaining in critical condition,″ although she was conscious and able to open her eyes, he said Friday.

The Frustacis and other members of their immediate family have been with the babies almost around the clock since Thursday morning, when little James Martin died in his parents’ arms after living only 16 days.

The septuplets were delivered 12 weeks early by Caesarean section on May 21.

One girl - Christina Elizabeth - was stillborn, while 1-pound David Anthony died after surviving 64 hours. Both have been buried at a Riverside cemetery.

Wood was asked Friday about how the parents, who also have a 14-month-old son, were coping.

″They are doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,″ he said. ″The mom is spending as much time as she can with her children, especially Bonnie Marie.″

On Friday, D. Carrie Worcester, director of newborn intensive care at Childrens Hospital of Orange County, said of Bonnie Marie: ″She is very similar to James. From the first day of life she’s had severe respiratory problems which have really never improved except for a brief period on about day five or six of life,″ she said.

″We’ve been giving her a 50-50 chance for survival and indeed she’s taken a turn for the worse over the past several days, and I do not expect her to live. We’ve not given up all hope for survival, but it’s very slim.″

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